Assistance Dogs of the West
Santa Fe, NM
Most recently, the Planet Dog Foundation has awarded a grant to Assistance Dogs of the West in support of their Courthouse Dogs Program. Through the program, ADW places dogs in criminal justice settings where they help to foster a safer and more comfortable environment for child crime victims who must provide depositions and give testimony in court. Courthouse Dogs play a crucial role in easing the stress felt by children and adults in the court system, and often aid prosecutors to achieve convictions. Legal professionals report that ADW dogs can accomplish tasks in minutes that would take highly educated and experienced staff an hour to achieve. The difficult, heart-wrenching job of investigating child abuse allegations and preparing children to testify in court, and educating the public about child victimization, has been made easier.
Through educational and vocational programs, as well as other training outlets, Assistance Dogs of the West also provides trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities in order to increase self-reliance. PDF funding has also supported their partnership with the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Family Services, which enables juvenile detainees ages 12-19 to train service dogs to perform 90 commands to help a person develop an assistance dog. The program uses professional educators to teach students to train assistance, psychiatric, social therapy and seizure dogs to work with people with disabilities. The at-risk students gain knowledge, build responsibility and compassionate awareness of people with different abilities, while making concrete contributions to the community. The curriculum teaches leadership, behavioral health and positive concrete vocational skills through the hands-on responsibility of caring for an assistance dog critical to another person’s independence.